I must admit that in doing this next interview, I had a very selfish motive and much love to Ben for doing this. There has been all this craze of Plenty of Fish dating site and the ridiculous amounts of traffic and data it offers the everyday affiliate – something that Google and FB have turned the shoulder on for the most part. Call me timid, gun-shy, whatever you want – i had not the faintest idea where to start so I thought of approaching Ben and to my pleasant surprise, he agreed. He not only agreed – he took the time to answer each and EVERY question I had in such detail that anyone who was or has been on the fence on advertising on POF can relax. I urge each and everyone of you to read this thoroughly, read it again – tweet it, tweet it again and yeah “Like” it and Like it again for good measure. This is EXCLUSIVE content baby, Happy Fishing!
1) Ben, please tell us briefly about Ben and how you got started in this industry.
I grew up as a chubby kid who watched too much WWF and played too many video games. As a result, I have a wild imagination which lends itself quite nicely to advertising. My part-time job during university was doing sales at a classified advertising company that was very print-based at the time. I knew online advertising would be the future but I had no knowledge or experience, so I jumped at the first opportunity to work in the field. PlentyOfFish.com was that company and I’ve never looked back.
2) When and why did you decide to join POF? Was it the inability of others to deliver or something else?
Opportunity and freedom. I remember Markus telling me, “You’re going to learn more in 2 months at POF then you will at any other job” and that’s exactly what I needed. He was 100% correct! Most companies have entire departments to do the various tasks that I handle on a day-to-day basis. I never get bored because I’m always learning something new. Plus, I get to travel and meet all the awesome people in this industry, which is a nice perk! I didn’t used to be much of a drinker but working in this industry has definitely changed that LOL. About two years ago POF was growing quickly and needed someone to fill in the spot of advertising sales. I think I was employee… #5?
3) Can you share some key trends of usage of POF advertising (adoption, spends, tactics etc).
At this point in time, dating seems to be the dominant vertical. This is not to say that it’s the only thing that works! I remember when I first started, it was all about continuity offers so things trend and things change. As long as you’re constantly testing new verticals, you’ll eventually strike gold. With the number of targeting options that POF offers, there is a lot of untapped opportunity for other verticals. In terms of tactics, I try to document some of my ideas on our blog, https://blog.ads.pof.com. I’ve had some pretty positive feedback about it so I recommend the read! For those who don’t know, minimum deposit for POF is only $25, which gets you access to the 110×80 text ads. A $1000 deposit grants access to IAB banners.
4) In your mind, what are the differences between traditional online advertising vs. social ads??
Targeting. I really like the idea of only spending money on a relevant audience and (shameless plug); this is where POF really shines. I mean, let’s say your money demographic was a US male who has no children, owns a car, drinks socially, likes games and puzzles, makes under $50k/year and has logged into POF less than 200 times, we can do that! Also, you can split test that against men who have children or make over 50k/year and see how the results are there. There is a lot of creative freedom when you know exactly the demographic you’re hitting with your ads, so take advantage of that fact, make the ads applicable and relatable to enjoy better results.
5) Talk to us specifically about your experience and frustrations in dealing with affiliates and publishers?
So far, it’s been an overwhelmingly positive experience dealer with affiliates. I love the feeling of accomplishment when someone has an “AHA!” moment and realizes how to monetize POF’s traffic effectively. I also enjoy referring people to the best person that I know to do the job. I’ve literally helped businesses grow this way. I always remind the people I work with that we’re all in this together so help each other along the way. Metaphorically, we would teach each other the best ways to fish but not share the fish that one has already caught.
One of my big frustrations includes affiliates that don’t put in the work but expect full results. I’m sorry but if your only tactic is to copy what others have done and expect me to troubleshoot your campaigns, I’d rather use my time to help the guys that are willing to innovate and trail blaze.
Quantcast is also a frustration for me. Quantcast, as a service, is great but I’m frustrated with how people use it. Let’s say, for a particular offer, Quantcast tells you that the best demographic for offer ABC is demographic XYZ.Well, 1000000 other people know this as well. So instead of doing a proper split test to find out what the most profitable demographic is, people setup a campaign, target what Quantcast tells you to target& run traffic. What are the chances of profiting when 1000000 other people know who exactly you’re targeting?
6) What are the ingredients of a successful advertising campaign on POF?
Creativity, determination, tech savvy, methodic split testing and open communication w/ me and your affiliate manager.
7) What are the metrics you use to measure success of a campaign?
People ask me all the time, “what’s a good # of impressions before you decide if a creative is worth keeping?” I address that question here (http://blog.ads.pof.com/2011/04/26/how-many-impressions-are-enough-to-test-a-creative) but I realize that a lot of people can’t afford to run an ad for a week straight so I offer another strategy that I’m going to explain as an exclusive to http://rickyahuja.com readers.
Instead of aiming for a pre-determined CTR goal, look at the performance of the ads against one another. For example, 0.15% CTRcould be AWESOME for one demographic/product and absolutely terrible for another. So, look at your ads and if one of your ads is doing 4x as good as another, ditch the worst performing ads and continue to split test.
Eventually, this should lead to conversions and I would do the same process but with conversions. Keep testing and you WILL make money. Remember, the most successful affiliates have a harder time quitting than figuring something out.
8) Which are the top 3 industry segments currently using advertising on POF. Have there been any new industry segments that have seen a rise in the past 6 months?
Dating, Information products (usually dating related) and health/beauty. Right now, I think everyone’s waiting for “The Next Big Thing”. What is currently working on POF has always worked on POF traditionally. I put my money on mobile, which.. I’ll get more into on question 9!
9) What do you think is the impact of the “new” media on today’s publishers and affiliates? Are they leveraging it effectively and more importantly – are they leveraging it for the betterment of our industry?
Mobile is going to be big. I’ve always believed that money is made by making things more convenient for people (Look at online dating, you can browse 500 profiles in 1 night and reading a profile provides as much information as you’d discover in 2 dates).Accessing the internet via on a mobile device frees someone from having to sit down at a desk or table. I predict much more profit in mobile once the idea of purchasing things through a mobile device becomes more normalized and convenient (as evidenced in other countries). I think the industry will improve as the demand for more sophisticated mobile technologies increases. POF just released the ability to target people accessing the website through their mobiles, so there’s HUGE opportunity for those willing to put in the work to figure it out. As of right now, June 21, 2011, it’s anybody’s game.
10) There has been a recent craze about “content unlocking” networks and offers, does POF partake in that and what is your overall feedback on it for those on the fence?
POF doesn’t partake in that but if I know affiliates, you give them an inch and they’ll take it a mile. I think, eventually someone’s going to cross the line with “content unlocking” and that gives me the same gut feeling as flogs/farticles did… and we all know how that story ends. However, content unlocking as a marketing strategy is not something new. Just keep things compliant and if a certain offer gives you a bad gut feeling, run something else that doesn’t.
11) Which tools/websites do you recommend to efficiently manage campaigns on POF? Any tips you would like to share with our readers.
#1 would be our blog http://blog.ads.pof.com. It features tips, tricks and case studies of previous campaigns that were successful. Make sure you know what’s going on and what’s hot on the platform first before getting started! There’s also a “getting started guide” available on the log-in screen of our ad platform, https://ads.pof.com (Green link, right hand side).
Mass uploaders help as well. We have one that’s built into the ad platform but if you’re looking for one with more functionality, I recommend Mr. Green’s (http://www.mrgreen.am/plenty-of-fish-ad-uploader)
Lastly, tracking is incredibly important so get to know your preferred tracker ASAP (Tracking202, CPV Lab, Bevo Media). You need to know where you’re making/losing money.
12) Any words of wisdom for my readers who are looking to start advertising on POF but are still on the fence?
Leverage the relationships you have in this industry. No one does it alone! The good thing now is that there is a wealth of information on the internet about advertising on POF.com as well as forums that have members who have made money by advertising on POF.com. The tools are there, it’s up to you to master them. You also have an expert POF consultant at your fingertips: Me! So if you have a question about something that hasn’t been covered, I’m just an email away. Having the opportunity to work with someone on the traffic side of things is huge for someone starting out and it’s more than I can say for some other large social platforms out there.
13) Finally – if you could fill a swimming pool with anything besides water – what would it be?
Giant trampoline, basketball hoop and slam dunk contest music.
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